Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I feel...

I actually wanted to do a post on how spring equinox has passed and how now the days are longer than the night....
How spring made a dash for it, giving us sun, snowdrops and butterflies and how winter fought back with some serious snowfall.....
How we heard the calls of the whooper swans, geese and cranes and about how glad we are we saw them returning.....
About how our paprika seedlings are sprouting and we are planning the next steps of our homestead...
But instead it became Bruxelles, Belgium.

Yet another terrorist attack, yet more bombs going off.
yet more dying and suffering....
yet more hate, anger and fear.....

I feel for those that have died or suffer, physically or mentally.
I feel for those, whose loved ones were suddenly torn away in a storm of man made violence...
I feel for those who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives, victims and family alike....

But all this equally goes for those in Paris, France. In Istanbul, Turkey. New York, USA... For all those in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Israel... the list goes on and on....
And now violence has reached Europe, is on our doorstep. It no more is far away, somewhere over there "in the desert".
It is here.
It will stay.
It will get worse....
It will become more.....

Because we are being groomed for war. We are being fed seeds of anger and fear, so that hatred will grow. Grow to such an extent that we will unleash it upon "them".... fed by fertilising blood.
We haven't seen the end of it yet. My bet is that Germany or the Netherlands are next. Followed by the countries up north. Because there too hatred has to be sown and cultivated. Because there too are people who are still sceptic about the real cause of all this misery and mayhem. Because there are people everywhere still asking question, still doing their homework and seeing that things do not add up.
I am pretty sure that soon stories or evidence will surface that will completely contradict with official stories, just like in New York and Paris. Why is the Turkish government so hell bent on totally censuring on what has been going on there?

All throughout history those in power in collapsing societies turned on their own people in order to create a situation of chaos and war, in a desperate attempt to keep their power. It happened in each and every society that finally collapsed. Corruption, chaos, deceit, murder, war.... Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Mayans..... They all failed, despite draconic (or demonic?) measures.
We see our society fail. Economics, politics, finances; their are all at the brink of collapse or even over it, without admitting it. How could they? That would mean losing their power!
So they need chaos and war and in order to achieve that they create fear, anger, hatred and enemies!

After every attack people scream louder for blood. The blood of "the others". After every attack the hatred rages fiercer, more openly and remains there longer. Blindness is prevalent. Hatred blinds...
We are groomed for war. For fighting each other, instead of those that really cause the trouble; bankers, politicians and megacorporations. The wealth hoarding elite.
They are the real enemy, but we can not see that, since we are too busy slaughtering one another. Too busy screaming in anger to do our homework. Too busy hating "the others" to connect the dots. Too busy listening to their lies, that somehow suit us, to find the truth on our own. Too busy focussing on trivialities to see the bigger picture...

I feel for all those that died and suffer, because of that.
No matter who or where they are....
Our world is set alight. It is burning. And we are being encouraged to not only keep that fire burning, but fuel it, to make it spread until it is raging like an uncontrollable wildfire. I do not think that that is preventable any more. The masses have become too stupid, blinded and bloodthirsty and the powers too desperate and arrogant to turn the tide.
But maybe it will be not only a ravaging, destructive fire. Maybe it will be a cleansing fire. Getting rid of that evil, making way for the next step in our evolution, for a new world. That would only mean that we, as a species, would have to learn from our mistakes and I like to think that that will happen eventually. Because if we do not.......

Sometimes… in the ashes… an ember is found.
Sometimes… from the ember… a fire is born.
Sometimes… by the fire… a story is told.
Sometimes… in the story… a lesson is learned.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Restoration Agriculture with Mark Shepard

I just had to share this video.
What the man says makes soooo much sense.... to me, that I wonder why no one has ever thought of it? Is the human species really as smart and advanced as we'd like to think? Or are we just dumb cattle, following our neighbours and doing what we are told to do?
Agriculture on a totally new level.... to us civilised humans.
I am off to get this guy's book....

And he really had me, right there at the end. Love the man because of what he says and shows.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Signs? Of death, on death or about death..?

Lately I find myself stumbling across books, stories, blog posts or other mentionings with one very specific theme; death.
Not death as in dead and gone, end of life, the finished kind of thing, but more death as in a happening, a phase of life, a subject to study and learn about and above all what comes after. Grief, sorrow, the afterlife, whatever you will find after death has happened. That is the message that seems to be coming through; the teachings, not the end.

It started with the "Die wise"- book, which apparently did trigger something. Personally I do believe that that book found its way into my life for a reason..... But shortly after I started with the book I started coming across stories of death, or near death but even more so about death. This book actually acted as a catalyst. making clear to me a lot of things I already knew, believed in or have thought about.... a lot. And still do, including new aspects.

The realisation came to me the other day, when I was putting away books and organising bookshelves. My wife did bring home a few handfuls of books over the past weeks, which she had gotten for free (because I had found them, whilst scouring the internet and I asked her to). Some were useful, some were not and those that weren't to us were set aside to be given on and no more looked at. In the last handful there was a book we already had, so I went and put it with the rest.
And that's when my eye caught sight of a bright yellow cover with the title "Ljusfolket" by Benny Rosenqvist. And it's subtitle "andra sidan -  så funkar det. I read the backside of the cover and here too one of the main themes was the fear of death our culture has these days, just as in Die wise... The other theme was focused on learning how to deal with that. just like Die wise . Ljusfolket continues with subjects like the afterlife and on the lessons of life we need to learn, when we return once more, which Jenkinson's book does not cover, but which is a firm believe I hold myself. I was about to give this book away and the bright yellow cover should have caught my eye previously, but I guess the time wasn't right just yet. Haven't read the book just yet, though. Only browsed through it.

Other stories tell tales of near death incidents or accidents, some pet related, or deaths having occurred in the past, but always with the focus of what comes after that.

I do not expect me or anyone else around here dying anytime soon, although one never knows. But this is not the vibe I am getting. I do not think any of our pets will die, since there too signs are showing other paths. The arrival of Lester and the change of course my wife's career has gotten, seem to be leading us in yet another quite unexpected direction, which involves a very lively life for us and the dogs together.
It turns out that one of my wife's new colleagues is very active in and knowledgeable of dogsledding and everything associated and seems very willing to help and teach us.... and our dogs. And that would mean in an interactive way.. But that will be a different story alltogether.

There is this one passage in Die wise where Jenkinson refers to us and the cost of lives it took to get us here. And that really got me thinking. How many animals indeed did it take for me to arrive where I am now? How many were killed and slaughtered in order to feed me all these years. To clothe me. To give me my leather boots. How many trees were cut down to provide me with the wood I needed to construct the homes I lived in, the furniture I used and these days the warmth they provide in my home. And I haven't even dared to think about all the plants I ate, but even more about the lives lost, both animal and botanical, to make room in order for this all to happen..... The impact is enormous!!
It was mind boggling and I was horrified. But then I also felt a gratitude. A deep gratitude for being here, where I am today.....
It also made me think that all we do is take, but what do we give back? What did I give back? The answer is equally painful. Next to nothing. Not even our bodies, after we die, as Jenkinson so rightfully states. Those could at least feed something....... Until I started realising that I have begun to give back, albeit in a very limited, modest way. I have begun to teach my children to respect all with which they live; man, animal, plant and soil (not necessarily in that order). To understand the connection between them all and the interdependence. And I realised that I had already begun to give back to this small place I inhabit by feeding the soil compost, minerals and dung, even before I start to grow on any mentionable scale. I am going to give it back pollinators this year, from which I only plan to take their surplus after letting them have their share first.
Will I ever be able to repay the "debt" my living has claimed? Not even close. And yes, nature is based on eating or being eaten, but whenever an animal relieves itself, that spot gets fertilized, when it eats it often creates feeding opportunities for others and when it dies, its body becomes food itself. We are the only species that give nothing back at all......
And this is where it all goes wrong; we only take. This is where I feel we should make a change. We should give back as well. Whenever we take crops, we must give back the equal amount in "food" for that soil. Whenever we take trees or habitat, we need to replace them and maybe ( I know this will be touching a taboo in western thinking) we should stop burning or burying our dead, which only costs loads of energy, but leave them in a place, where they can serve a purpose as well. Become a part of the circle by providing sustenance to animal and plant and create a new circle of life instead of tucking them deep into the ground or blowing its energy into the air, where they serve no purpose at all. I once read that that apparently is a common practice in Tibet. they're called sky burials. If you're googling that, prepare for what might be considered stark images! And if I am informed correctly leaving out the dead was common practice if Africa too up until the arrival of christianity and/or islam.
Would I like the idea of the bodies of my loved ones being eaten and decaying out in the woods for instance? I have to admit that in a way that image does trouble me a little, but I do think that that is just cultural indoctrination speaking. As for me I have expressed my desire to become a part of said circle in one way or another a long time ago and so has my wife. Trouble is we're not allowed to.
(I know this is considered to be an thought provoking or even extreme point of view by many, but maybe we should ask ourselves why?)

We need to strike a balance....

Anyway.... as I said it got me thinking....and it keeps me thinking.....
AM I afraid to die? No, not really. Am I afraid of pain? No, not anymore. Just a matter of getting drugged up. But I really do not like the idea of leaving my family behind and if there is one thing I am afraid of, it would be living my final days as not being me; crippled, incapacitated, both physically and mentally. That would be utter torment for me.

I realise that I and the memory of me will find away with time. The "I" as it is today will cease to exist. The spirit will move on though. Go back to where we all originate from, become reborn into a physical being to learn yet another lesson or maybe teach one or receive another task to fulfill. Because that is what I believe. That divine spark that creates "life", that makes a body come alive and gives it personality, is immortal.

And this is one of the things I disagree with Jenkison with. He states we need a place to bury our dead. That that place creates a vital connection between human and land. That that is our anchor and our connection to the dead.
I believe/know that the dead are with us, wherever we are. I have felt my grandfather's presence here and so has my oldest daughter..... who happened to be born on his day of death, quite a bit over the calculated date of birth. I never visited his grave. Didn't and do not see the point. The bodies of the dead are empty husks, which will return to the ground after they have fulfilled their purpose; being a vessel for the spirit and soul. That doesn't mean we should just throw them away like garbage. After all they are the physical remains of the ones we loved and at least some respect should be shown and care should be taken. But as said, stuffing it 6 feet under or blowing it into the air doesn't make any sense, other than sanitary maybe.
And where does this strong, inner connection to the land in which we live now come from? None of my forebears lived here, are buried here or even know the place. Not in a sense as we would understand it historically. But, given the line of thought of returning spirits, it would make perfect sense that I have lived here at some time in the past. That those spirits are far more connected to everything and everyone around me, because those connections are far more expanding than just direct family or lineage. Hence taking care of just the graves/dead in your lineage would be too little. That, to me, we are far more interconnected than just that.

How do I see my own death?? What do I hope for? I don't know. Would I take any and all measures to lengthen my life, despite the odds or outcome? A definite "No" there. As long as I do not need to wither away, tied to machines that make me be, as Metallica once put it. Being an unnecessary emotional or financial burden to my family, community or society. I want to have some dignity left at the end of my physical being here, if possible.
I want them to celebrate my life, my deeds and accomplishments, however few those may be. Which actually is false modesty, since I do have a profound impact on the life of my family of course. And I know it had, has and will have on others too. Equally v.v.
I do not need for my death to have meaning. I already had that with my life. So there is no need to bargain for more time. For a very large part I already did what I needed/wanted to; Meet a loving wife, have a family, raise kids in the right way and with the right ideas and be as kind as I possible can to the place I call home; house, area, planet.... and maybe reaching someone out there and touch them, their mind, their soul into being like that too. Couldn't wish for more....

Would that mean I am ready to die at any time, right now?
I guess, yeah. Pretty much. I have accepted death as the one final and inevitable thing I must undergo. I have accepted that death is my and our companion every step of the way, ever since I was born and that it will come, whenever my time is up. I have accepted that the same applies for those I love too!
But of course I would like to see my kids grow up and watch them go out into the world and maybe complete the circle and I would like to physically be there with them until they do. Watching their children do the same would be a great bonus, if I could do that in good physical and mental health. I would like to grow old with my wife and do my best to be a bit more kind to these places I call home.

But when the time comes, I do believe I am ready. Yes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring has come

Or it felt that way this morning at least, as there was a very physical change in the weather.
The skies cleared right before the rising of the sun and as they did banks of fog came rolling in from over the lakes onto the land.
I stood there for a while watching it. As the clouds in the skies retreated, the clouds on land advanced and there were very clear boundaries to both. The rising sun cast it all in an unbelievably mystical and dreamy light. So rich and thick you could almost think of touching it.
And as the sun rose, so did the temperature and the fog started dissipating. This event for me marked the beginning of spring, since from now on, according to the forecasts, the daytime temperatures will go up to well above freezing.

But not before King Winter had made his presence felt. He gave us more snow. About 10cm during saturday, which started to melt right away, but we got about 15cm more during monday. Heavy, thick snow,which, on the ground, felt like whipped cream you had to waddle through. Very tiresome and my boots got soaked quickly. Well, everything that touched the snow did. The dogs' leash got so heavy, it barely came loose from the ground.

The birds have become very audible too. Right through the thickest of snow showers they, mostly blue and great tits, sang and called, dozens of them around or house and garden. Felt a bit surreal too.
But one of the most audible species these days are the woodpeckers. They call, they hammer and when walking the woods I realised we have no shortage of them either! The hammering, territorial calls were being answered from all around and it appears their territory is not all that big. An amazing feeling standing there in between and hearing them from every direction.

And then, not much later, I heard the singing of a bird that was quite different from the other and against the light of the sky I spotted a bird, high on the top of a large spruce singing: bigger that a tit, the size of a thrush, reddish chest, light coloured underside. It's song somehow reminded me of a canary (?) According to my books and internet it could very well have been a "hämpling" (Carduelis cannabina)
Since this species of bird is migratory, I might just have spotted the first of the summer residents having returned!

Now all we need to do is wait until the snow has melted. It'll be a wet and sloppy business, but it'll be worth it. By now I am tired of this alternating white-, grey- and wetness....
We're all tired and longing for sunlight or more daylight. Bones ache, body's heavy and stiff.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dog first aid - a damaged ear

It had to happen sooner or later; one of the dogs sustained an injury.
The unlucky one was Lester. When going for a walk, our neighbour passed with his dog and Rex reacted violently. He appears to have a serious dislike for this dog and owner... Lester apparently got to close during Rex' tirade and Rex snapped at him, clipping Lester in his left ear. Ears have the unpleasant habit of bleeding profusely as we came to notice when we were on the way. We spotted drops of blood in the snow and then a red ear.
My wife used a chunk of snow to blot and stop the bleeding; the snow acting as a bandage, whilst the cold makes the blood vessels contract. This initially did the trick, but eventually the wound, not a big one luckily, opened up again as we were almost home again. The dogs had been noticeably more quiet during the walk. No goofing around and no playing until we were almost home. This time it bled a little harder.
At home we cleaned the ear and stopped the bleeding again by applying a bit of pressure on it with a damp towel. That worked and the dogs kept their distance again. Until a good hour later. I do not know what happened, if Lester scratched his ear or what, but when he shook his head he sprayed blood all over the livingroom floor and my pants. It bled even harder than before as wounds tend to do, when they are opened up again. This called for more drastic measures....
Here's where the first aid book on cats and dogs came in very handy. (the one I mentioned here). On page 26 it described a bandage for precisely this purpose; stopping the bleeding on ears.
You put a gauze on the wound, fold the injured ear upward, fold the other ear upward too and then wrap around a bandage, holding gauze and ears in place.
It may not look very neat, but it is effective. A good first lesson on a minor injury, but one that made very close contact (the head) necessary and one that, hopefully, showed Lester he can trust us with incidents and measures like this one.

And now he is lying quietly at my feet, not even trying to touch the bandage, as if he knows and accepts it is for the better.

Add on march 7th;
Of course I had spoken too soon...
Getting a bandage to sit properly on a dog, that is not to cooperative and moves about is not easy. Do it with 2 persons; one to hold the dog (and gauze) and comfort him and the other to focus on the bandage.
Lester kept rubbing and scratching off the bandage, so we had to find a way in order to secure it in place. Here the book offers yet another great solution; socks. We took one of our youngest daughters stretch cloth capri pants that she had outgrown and cut off the upper part of the leg. First we tried that without a hole for the right ear, but Lester seemed not to like that at all!! He kept rubbing his ear and the bleeding started all over again. So I cut a hole for the other ear, enabling him to hear better and to fix the "sock" in place too. And that worked!!
We however made the mistake to take it all off too
soon and as we were out for the final walk that day, he shook his head and..... yup... started ripping again. *sigh*
So we repeated the whole exercise once more for the night and hoped the best for it. And that really did work, even though he again had bandage and sock around his neck again in the morning....
I added one headsock and a regular sock for the legs to out animal first aid kit. For catpaws (and our own fingers) we have regular tube bandages.

Now I need to go out and buy more gauzes and bandages.....

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

farewell to february

It's been a weird winter; pretty cold on one occasion (down to -27C), decent amount of snow that melted away on a few occasions, a handful of thaws, windy and pretty grey and overcast.
Februari went as it should; cold, crisp air at night, sunny during the day with old snow on the ground and still frozen lakes.
I had to see the last true winter full moon last month and we were treated with clear, open skies. I watched the moon rise as I walked the dogs. It rose large and butter yellow. Often at night I watch the Orion's belt constellation move closer to its summer position in the sky. It is one of my favorites, probably because I connect it to this place and to our home. When we look up or out of the living room window it is right there in front of us. We call it "the kite" sometimes. I am enjoying these clear, dark winter nights as long as they last. Soon stargazing will be quite a bit more difficult.
The next morning, as the dogs and I were accompanying the kids to the schoolbus, the rising sun already turned the skies on the southern side of the valley a fiery yellow and on the exact opposite side the moon was sinking below the still dark treeline, a large orangey pinkish (some would call it peach, but that's a fruit) globe. The cold morning air stung in the cheeks again and the only sounds were the crunching snow under our feet and the reverberating mocking calls of the green woodpecker.... as if he was making fun of King Winter's attempts to keep spring at bay.
The days have lengthened very noticeably with at least four hours more of daylight since christmas.

I say farewell to february with mixed feelings. Winter's coming to an end. The sun's intensifying warmth, especially on sunny days, and the calling of the birds already hold the promise of spring. I am already feeling it in my bones too; a heavy tiredness with a constant urge to feed and snack. Soon Sweden's 5th season will be upon us with alternating cycles of thaw and frost, turning everything wet & slushy, only to become hard and slippery again... until all the snow and ice has disappeared.

But before all this comes to pass we are making the most of it still.
One of those occasions included a "fika" ( pronounced fee-kah) or Swedish coffee get together in the middle of the lake. Or technically on it. It started with us asking our friends here for some moose bones, since Lester does not seem to like those dried 'n rolled thingies. They did have some, but only if we paid for them. Paying as in joining them in said fika. That sounded just like our kind of bargain!
So in the afternoon we packed our things and headed out to meet them. We are not really used to being out on the ice, so it felt a bit special. And in good Dutch, no Limburg tradition we offered them a stronger drink too. And there was this commercial many years ago that claimed you had to serve a Jägermeister icecold. So we did....
Earlier that day I crossed the lake with the dogs and out there, in the early midday sun it got quite warm. Knitted hat and gloves came off and my coat was opened up. I was also painfully reminded to wear sunglasses during such circumstances. Blazing sun and wide open, white areas really hurt your eyes and blind you pretty fast and effectively.

But as the sun started setting the temperature dropped equally fast. Time to go home...

The next day, february 29th, I took the dogs and went looking for the beaver den I knew had to be around somewhere. There is extensive beaver damage on one side of the lake and I went there to see if I could find the den. I did find it and it was quite big too!! There should be more than 1 beaver in there.
The dogs in front give a bit of an idea of the size and in the background you can see a bit of the damage. Most of the shoreline to the right looked like that; dozens of mature trees cut down...

One season is slowly coming to an end, but we already need to look ahead. We need to make plans for sowing and planting, beehives have to be built for the hopefully soon to arrive bees and the checken/rabbitcoop needs to be build as well as the orangery on the southside of the house. A large part of the garden needs to be fenced off too, so the dogs can be outside. But for those last projects the frost has to be completely gone out of the ground and the latter can even be constructed during summer, so I still have time.....